Secrets of Jamaica Bay�
receive many inquiries as to the action of Jamaica Bay. If any of our readers have
followed my television show over the years, then you know I make many trips into Jamaica
Bay each season, some actually to work with television crew in tow, but most just for fun.
Action here is phenomenal and while we know Jamaica Bay is an extensive area, Id
like to break down the species anglers can fish for and the most opportune times to do so.
FLOUNDER. Jamaica Bay has a long-standing
reputation as one of the better spring flounder areas and for good reason. The large,
expansive bay heats up quicker than other areas and flounder perk up with this warming
trend. Flounder are caught right through June in the bay, till they make way
for Rockaway Inlet and the Tin Can Grounds off Breezy Point when waters are too warm,
around the end of May into June. The season starts between the Cross Bay Bridge and the
trestle for the city's subway A-Line, which is the Broad Channel area of Jamaica Bay.
You'll find party boats from Sheepshead Bay and Smittys rental skiffs fishing here
and up into the back of JFK Airport near Head of the Bay towards Norton Point & Mott
Creek. Here it's big flounder, all jumbo females after the spawn. Other hot areas consist
of Ruffle Bar, Pumpkin Patch and Floyd Bennett Field. These same areas produce right away
when the fall flounder season opens September 15.
While flounder are still jumping into the pails of local J-Bay anglers, stripers make
their way through the inlet about the middle of April and become a nuisance to flounder
fishermen. There are numerous schoolies and quite a few keepers caught in this area from
spring right through to December. This action continues on a torrid pace through May &
June. I've had days in May where acres upon acres of schoolie bass invade Jamaica Bay.
From the Marine Parkway Bridge, all the way back to the radar piers just off the JFK
runways is unbelievable springtime fishing. We've caught bass from the trestle bridge
standing on Smitty's dock using poppers or bucktails and tins, fly rods and worms,
drifting, trolling or at anchor are all effective ways to catch stripers here.
are trolled on parachute jigs or caught on live bunker behind JFK and the radar piers, or
near the channel bridges until waters warm and they head back towards Breezy Point and the
inlet. It's then the great chunk fishing takes place in Rockaway Inlet in late June, July
& August. As summer progresses, it becomes a nocturnal ritual until waters cool with
the shorter days and longer nights of fall and the migration begins.
BLUEFISH. Not long after stripers arrive, one of
the true staples of Jamaica Bay the last few years...bluefish, maraud the entire area on a
relentless mission to seek & destroy. Around the beginning of May, these saltwater
piranhas provide plenty of excitement for anglers wetting a line for flounder or bass, and
many stories of flounder or weakfish being chopped in half are quite true. Early on it's
the big brutes of 10 pounds or better and then the smaller cocktail blues arrive.
chasing birds in Jamaica Bay, you'll encounter pods of blues or bass and sometimes a
mixture of the two. Recently though it's been one or the other, again chasing small white
bait so prevalent here. This run & gun action occurs anywhere from the Marine Parkway
Bridge, north towards Mill Basin, Canarsie and back east to JFK Airport. It can happen
anytime...anywhere and experienced anglers know to carry a spinning rod and diamond jigs
with them at all times, no matter what they're fishing for. Summer action for BIG blues
comes on bunker chunks at night from boat, near the Cross Bay or Marine Parkway Bridge.
FLUKE. While Jamaica Bay fluking is known for
getting a late start when compared to Jones Inlet or Captree, Jamaica Bay does get her
fair share of action. Summer flattie fishing gets going with a few sporadic fluke in the
beginning of the season, but by Memorial Day, things are generally in full swing. Some
very impressive fluke to 9 pounds or better are taken each spring and the amount of bait,
from grass shrimp to snappers, is what keeps these doormats happy and looking for an easy
meal. Areas to look are the Silver Hole, the Floyd Bennett Field area, Mill basin and any
of the flats of the entire estuary as these fluke chase bait up into skinny water.
Spearing, squid, bay anchovies or killies are all ambushed by summer flounder.
WEAKFISH. Unless you've been living underground
the last three years, you must know by now, Jamaica Bay is exploding with weakfish action.
They arrive late in May, start slowly and build in numbers until they bite like crazy from
mid-July to the end of September and into early October, depending on weather and
conditions. Whole sandworms is the name of the game here day or night and bunker chunks
still get a few true, tiderunners for local sharpies after dark. The action runs from the
Marine Parkway Bridge, Floyd Bennett Field, Mill Basin & Canarsie, right back to Buoy
19 at the northeast corner of the Silver Hole. The entire bay has seen fantastic
weakfishing the last few years as this cyclical species is on the rebound.
In normal years, when spring is sunny & warm, these tasty crustaceans start showing
towards the end of May, just about the time weakfish do. The best crabbing takes place on
a full moon in July, August & September from around the grass and mud flats of the
entire J-Bay area using killie rings or traps. Scooping them from bridges or at night
using a lantern can be fast & furious! Jimmy from Smitty's is considered a local
crabbing expert and relies heavily on sight scooping crabs from the bridges.